This message was sent to the BiCo Community on January 7, 2022.
Dear BiCo Community,
We are eager to welcome students back to campus for spring semester 2022! Here are the latest plans for the first week of class.
Both Haverford and Bryn Mawr require boosters for all eligible staff, students, and faculty. Considerable data confirm the value of boosters in reducing the transmission and severity of COVID, and particularly the Omicron variant. Our plans for the start of the semester reflect four core assumptions based on the latest public health information and guidance from our infectious disease advisors:
- Our colleges cannot completely prevent COVID on campus, and we anticipate higher numbers of COVID cases among students, staff, and faculty throughout this semester than earlier in the pandemic. Specifically, we anticipate that our pre-arrival and arrival testing will likely result in some number of positive tests and that some students, faculty, and staff will be isolating. We expect these numbers to be highest through at least the early weeks of the semester while the Omicron wave peaks in the northeast US.
- Our vaccination and booster requirements significantly diminish the likelihood of severe cases of COVID.
- Masking with a well-fitting, appropriate (surgical, N95, KN95, or KF94) face covering is more important than ever in limiting COVID transmission, in the context of Omicron’s high transmissibility.
- Given our vaccination, booster, and face-covering requirements, there remains low risk of transmission in our classrooms, laboratories, studios, and workspaces.
We appreciate that on the heels of student arrival and testing, the first week of classes will bring logistical challenges. Therefore, we will begin the semester with in-person instruction beginning on Jan. 18 as planned, with faculty having the option to offer their own classes virtually for the first week in light of the particular pedagogical needs of each class and individual circumstances.
Our deans and provosts will follow up with more information about how this flexible approach will be implemented; as with any health-related absence from class, students placed in isolation or quarantine due to a positive COVID test will have access to material they may have missed so that they are able to achieve learning goals. Flexibility will mean that we are better able to address the complexity and variety of educational needs of students and faculty and the particular challenges of this part of the COVID pandemic.
We wish you all the best for the new semester. We feel fortunate to lead two colleges who share the values of community care and commitment to the best possible educational experience.
Kim Cassidy and Wendy Raymond, Presidents